The weather is getting warm and school is in full swing. As such, I’m daydreaming of free time and remembering the many adventures I went on over spring break…that I didn’t write blog posts for. I don’t want anyone to miss out on the great adventures to be had in Japan, so I’ll try to write about them now! Better late than never, right?
I say spring break, but really it was the entirety of February and March. Naturally there was snow involved. Okay, so there wasn’t snow in Tokyo, but there was in Hokkaido, which is where I went for their annual snow festival! I’d been looking forward to it for a long time, and was excited to make the trip! On top of that, I went by myself, so it was a great opportunity to put the skills I’ve been learning to use! The staff at the hostel I stayed at really appreciated my grasp of Japanese, and I found that it opened up fun and exciting opportunities around town.
The snow festival takes place in Sapporo in 3 major locations. I visited 2 of them because the third had more of a family focus and I wasn’t staying for very long (it was incredibly expensive during the festival). This picture was taken in Odori Park. The park is broken up along several blocks along a major street and was where the snow sculptures were primarily located. My favorite part about the displays in this park was that each block had its own theme. One block was snow sculptures created by kids, another had specific anime characters, another was filled with teams competing from around the world (I even got to seem them at work). There was a ski/snowboard jump competition on one block, and an ice skating rink with people dressed as ninjas on the one with Sapporo tower. At night there were performances by idol groups on another block, and a couple large sculptures like the one shown above had projection light shows. It was amazing!
I also got to see a lot of intricately made ice sculptures lining the streets of the second location. I was blown away by the skill of the artists and loved their work. There was also a more interactive area at the end of the street with a tunnel filled with lights, ice race cars and benches, and an ice slide. Were the people going down the slide on the thin cardboard strips mostly children? Yes. Did that stop me from acting like a kid and sliding as well? Of course not!
I did take some time to explore the city during the day as well. Tokyo doesn’t have much snow, and I missed it dearly, so I went to a nearby park and went for a walk around the area. I found a large shrine that looked so hushed and serene with fallen snow. It was a beautiful winter scene, and I felt so much peace and tranquility. I finished off the day of explorations by going up Mount Moiwa. I had heard good things about viewing the sunset from the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, I left too late for the sunset. I don’t think it mattered much, however, because the day was quite overcast and when I did get to the observation point at the top it was so foggy I couldn’t see a thing. However, being the stubborn individual I am, I didn’t immediately return. Instead, I made some new friends with some exchange students at another university and we talked about what brought us to Japan, as well as to the snow festival. Then, after all our waiting it finally paid off with a beautiful view of Sapporo lit up at night.
I love Japan.